India: Play based on Mahasweta Devi's Draupadi lands organisers in trouble in Central University of Haryana
Mahasweta Devi, one of the most celebrated contemporary Indian writers, passed away in July this year. In photo: Draupadi is presented in a Parcheesi game where Yudhishthira has gambled away all his material wealth. (Representative image: Wikipedia)
Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi continues to rile the establishment. At least in the north Indian state of Haryana. The registrar of the Central University of Haryana in Mahendragarh sought an explanation on Septemeber 22 from the organisers of a commemorative event celebrating Devi's life.
The university's department of English and Foreign Languages had organised a dramatic performance of Devi’s famous short story Draupadi on Sunday, September 21 to which a group of people objected. The vice chancellor, Prof M P Singh, has constituted a committee to look into the matter.
Mahasweta Devi, one of the most celebrated contemporary Indian writers, passed away in July this year. The literary world came out with a profusion of messages expressing its loss and many events across universities have been organised to celebrate her life.
It has been alleged that the performance was deliberately timed to undermine the deaths of 18 soldiers in the recent terrorist attack in Uri sector of northern Jammu & Kashmir state.
In his condolence message, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, had noted: “She was a powerful voice against all forms of oppression and injustice. Her writings reflected the life of downtrodden and her voice was seen as the collective conscience of society reflecting its yearning for justice and equality.” Ironically, the President of India is a Visitor of Central University of Haryana.
A group of people had objected to the ‘Epilogue’ wherein the issue of custodial rapes and sexual harassment by police and army personnel was raised. Perceiving the play as an affront to the dignity of soldiers, the student wings of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and along with Indian National Lok Dal have decided to carry out state-wide protests in Haryana. It has been alleged that the performance was deliberately timed to undermine the deaths of 18 soldiers in the recent terrorist attack in Uri sector of northern Jammu & Kashmir state.
In her reply to the registrar, Snehsata of Department of English and Foreign Languages denies the charges of deliberate maligning and quotes Supreme Court of India’s observations regarding custodial atrocities. She also alleges that she’s being singled out for “being a woman who has raised the issues of women.”